One thing will never change: Cole Karstetter is going to have fun next weekend at Martin Stadium.
For a younger Karstetter, autumn Saturdays meant a crush of crimson with family in the stands and older brother Jared catching balls for the Cougars.
“The only time I’d get to play was after the game, throwing the ball around with my cousins and brothers,” Karstetter said, smiling at the thought.
Then his thoughts turned to getting back on the Martin Stadium turf, clad in a different shade of red.
On Saturday, the fabric of family and football will add some new threads on Saturday for the Karstetter family. They’ll come from all compass points, clad in scarlet to cheer on Cole – who’ll start at rover back for Eastern Washington in the season opener.
Once again, Karstetter will feel the crush of crimson – this time for real. He added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason for this moment. “To hit a few linemen,” he said.
“I’m excited. This has been a dream growing up, and it’s great to actually be playing there,” said Karstetter, a standout player at Ferris High School who set a Greater Spokane League season record with 1,442 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He’s not the first Eagle in the family. Parents Jerry and Perrianne attended Eastern, where Jerry played basketball in 1981. Jerry’s sister, Sue, played 123 games for the Eagles from 1979-83.
It was Jared who broke family tradition by going to WSU, where he was the Cougs’ leading receiver in a four-year career that ended in 2011. Another brother, Kurt, played linebacker at Idaho State.
By all accounts, Cole is ready to carry on the tradition. After redshirting in 2014, he saw plenty of action last year as the second-string rover back, the linchpin position in the Eagles’ 4-2-5 defense.
“He’s one of our most versatile players,” Eastern defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding. “He can do a lot of things for us.”
In the offseason, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Karstetter hit the books as well as the weights.
“Now I know what everyone is doing – last year I didn’t always understand the fronts and what the linemen and backers were doing,” Karstetter said.
“Now things are slowing down, and that helps us play faster.”
And have more fun doing it.